This column has pointed out some of the silliness surrounding how drivers can make the Chase in the first weekend of racing and then be able to cruise or test for a good portion of the season. That’s not to say that drivers don’t want to win on a weekly basis, but holding the big trophy at Homestead comes with a bit of a bigger check and a little more cache than winning most events.
Let’s consider the case of Kyle Busch, the driver with three wins but who has also finished 30th or worse for the past four weeks. Busch is solidly locked into the Chase and for all we know he and his team have been doing a whole lot of tinkering these past few weeks and it just hasn’t worked out.
Then look at how the points standings work. Busch leads the standings because of his three victories. On points, however, he’s sitting 36 behind Chase Elliott, who’d be in sixth. But Busch isn’t the best one to benefit from the new playoff points format as his teammate Denny Hamlin, winner of the Daytona 500, has amassed just 380 points and without the win would be battling for 13th spot in the standings.
There’s something that just feels sort of screwy when one looks at how these things play out. That being said, there isn’t quite a solid formula for fixing it.
It does feel like rewarding drivers for their regular season points performance should take on more significance.
Happiness Is…The Feud. For those of you who spent some of your precious time prior to Sunday’s race watching the Brad Keselowski interview with Jeff Gordon, how do you feel?
There are elements to what Keselowski is discussing that have some merit but NASCAR has always maintained a bit of an inbred culture when it comes to its broadcasts. It seems that Keselowski may feel that Penske or, more specifically the No. 2 team, are being singled out for criticism. Not sure that is the case.
What is plain to see here is that these two are the proverbial oil and water – they just don’t know how to mix, though it does feel like Gordon is giving it more of an attempt than Keselowski.
But maybe the most interesting thing to come out of the interview was when Keselowski said, “My take is, what part of this sport is entertainment and what part is not entertainment, and where the line is, is a little bit blurry.” Not to seem too silly or something, but the whole thing IS entertainment. The racing, the rules, the management, and so on; it’s all one big show that gets videoed, written about, tweeted and Instagrammed. Isn’t that part of the whole deal?
Happiness Is… Suarez. Last weekend, Daniel Suarez earned his first career NASCAR XFINITY series win. To most people, this victory was a long time coming as Suarez has consistently ran toward the front and has narrowly missed out a few times. He can probably thank his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch for losing out on a number of those potential wins.
The ballyhooed aspect of Suarez’s win is that he became the first Mexican to do so within the three NASCAR national touring series. In truth, that’s pretty cool. It’s likely that his home country offered him a good deal of congratulations for his feat.
What makes the win more remarkable is that we’re watching a driver with talent come into his own. He continues to get better on almost a weekly basis. With the much lauded youth movement on display in the Cup level, there should be a good chance that Suarez may join them in the near future. And think about it, Suarez beat XFINITY mast Busch to grab that first checkered flag – and did so by outrunning Busch at the end of race, when Busch usually cruises home. Good to beat a Cup regular, even better while notching the first win.
Happiness Is… Those Other Guys. That’s probably the name of some Frat Pack movie starring Luke Wilson or something, but that’s not the intention here. With the Cup playboys taking the weekend off to check the oil in their boats or something, we all have the opportunity to give some attention to some other racing.
The Trucks and XFINITY series will both be taking to the track in Iowa at a place that showcases some excellent racing. It’s a chance to chill out and watch the drivers that don’t often get the limelight enjoy their chance to shine.
Then there’s Formula 1 which will be racing one of the rare street circuits on its calendar as they head to Baku, Azerbaijan. This race, the European Grand Prix, had been left off the calendar since 2012 and will be the first time that Baku will host an F1 event. The European GP is one that has frequently shifted about during its tenure, from England to Germany to Spain to basically any European country with enough money to make it work. That it’s new should make for an interesting spectacle. Enjoy.
About the author
As a writer and editor, Ava anchors the Formula 1 coverage for the site, while working through many of its biggest columns. Ava earned a Masters in Sports Studies at UGA and a PhD in American Studies from UH-Mānoa. Her dissertation Chased Women, NASCAR Dads, and Southern Inhospitality: How NASCAR Exports The South is in the process of becoming a book.
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